Solved Challenge: 5 Options for approaching a relationship where you’re the only one ready to go to the next level

Challenge Description:

I’m in a 5 years long relationship with my boyfriend and we are living together for 3,5 years. We are both a bit over 30 and we have had a good relationship so far, although I feel like I’m the mature one. I always take care of our vacation and organize other things; he on the other hand never seems to have enough money and is mainly into playing football which is his passion.

I am ready to bring the relationship to next level and have a family

So lately I’ve talked to him about getting engaged, having a child and maybe buying a house(currently we are renting). Although he always said he wants to have children he doesn’t have any initiative, there is only talk and no action. He also doesn’t seem to hurry to propose – he gives me excuses like “I want to do it in front of your family” And about the house, he said he would talk with landlord regarding  the possibilities but haven’t done it yet and it’s been weeks since he said he’ll do it… And did I mention that he has no savings?

So the conversation didn’t go so well.

I got frustrated and stopped talking to him (and now he is upset with me for that). I told him that when he will finally figure out what is his plan for life, he should let me know. I don’t want to press him for engagement as he will most probably point it out till the rest of our lives that “I forced” him to get married to me, but then again, I don’t want to wait any longer.

I thought we were a good couple, people always said he seemed to be so in love with me.

But lately, I don’t feel it’s the same anymore. For example, I don’t remember when was the last time I’ve received flowers or a little gift from him.

So now I’m waiting for him to make up his mind, but honestly, if he is not on the same page with me soon, I am ready to end this relationship even if I don’t want to.

Do you have any advice for me in this situation?

 

The next level

It seems like you’ve already taken the matter into your own hands by expressing to your boyfriend what you want, and now you wait for him to “make up his mind”. We have to admit that it is a rather typical way of how “these things go” and usually there is a resolution to the problem (after all, he will have to make up his mind at one point), it’s just a pity that there is no communication between the two of you in the meantime. Talking openly and honestly, yet calmly and confidently about your expectations could have been very valuable in this case, but many times when emotions run high, we tend to get upset and frustrated and we don’t want to have constructive discussions anymore.

As we have noticed in your challenge description, you are really ready to take the relationship to the next level yet the other interesting (and quite striking) impression that we’ve got, was that you are not very satisfied with the relationship, to begin with. I remember that when I was reading it for the first time, the question that crossed my mind was:

 

Why do you want to get married to him in a first place?

You are pointing out a couple of things about your boyfriend that you don’t appreciate: that he’s not good with money and has no savings and that he’s not romantic. You feel like “the mature one”, who handles most of the things in the relationship and we can obviously read some feelings of frustration and disappointment between the lines. So I guess you can understand why are we wondering “why would you like to “tie the knot”  with someone who you are not very satisfied with?”

Do you hope that things will “solve themselves” once you are engaged? Or maybe you are so focused on his proposal (or the lack of it) that you are not thinking about it yet? And why do you even want to get married in a first place?

 

Shifting the focus

What we would like to propose to you Alice is to shift your attention a little. Instead of being preoccupied with the thought “Will he or will he not propose?” we would like to ask YOU why do you want to be married to him? I guess you have some answer to it, but in order to approach it thoughtfully, we have prepared this week’s “The Mother of all Questions”: What do you really want from a relationship? And not necessarily from a relationship with the man you are with now, but in general.

So today we have a little hybrid solution for you: One question (The Mother) and Four Options that you can choose from, once you answer. Are you ready? Please read your Options and listen to the Podcast here

 

Your Options are: 

  • Option 1: The Mother of All Questions - What do I want from my perfect relationship?

  • Option 2: Work out your issues first

  • Option 3: Take a break 

  • Option 4: Put a ring on it

  • Option 5: Leave him

 

Option 1: The Mother of All Questions - What do I want from my perfect relationship?

We, humans, are really funny little creatures; when we are in relationships we tend to forget what we really want and need – not only from another person but also from ourselves and from life in general.

So we meet a person and we fall in love. Everything is great at the beginning as the “pink glasses mode” is on, but after some time, we start to notice some things that we don’t like. Challenges arise and we find ourselves arguing, complaining or trying to change the other person through either subtle (manipulation, passive-aggressive behavior) or harsh (emotional blackmail) methods. Some of us stay in this kind of relationships, feeling frustrated and miserable, others – break up and move on to someone else, repeating exactly the same pattern.

How often do you complain about your “other half”?  Do you tend to say something like: “Why is he not romantic?”, “Why is she such a bitch?”, “Could he save some money finally?” or “I want her to be more relaxed” etc. If you do that a lot, then in reality what you want is a romantic person/a relaxed person/a person that is stable, but not necessarily a person that your partner really is. Of course, you would like your boyfriend to change into that person, but you cannot expect him to do that, only because you want him to.

 

Why do we complain in a first place?

There are three main reasons why we complain about our partners and the exercise that we have prepared for you today will enable you to figure out which one is the case for you.

The first reason is that many of us have far too idealistic vision about the relationships.  We may be a bit too critical towards our partners and hung up on some things that are really not that important.

The second reason is connected with our unfulfilled needs. Many times we are unable to satisfy our own needs (feeling worthy, feeling safe, feeling respected, feeling loved)  so we subconsciously expect our partner to do it for us. If he fails, we start to complain. For example, if our partner doesn’t act exactly as we want, we automatically start to question his/her feelings -which many times is connected with our own lack of self-confidence or self-love.

And last but not least, we complain because we are simply in a wrong relationship and we either didn’t realize it yet or we just don’t want to acknowledge that. Maybe we have got involved with a person that is great, but not necessarily great for us?

 

One exercise that can totally change your love life

Do you like to play a detective?  If yes, well darling, today is your lucky day (and if not, I can guarantee that you’ll love it from now on). The following exercise requires some serious investigation but it will help you to find out what you really want from a relationship:

  1. You will realize the gaps between what you really want in a relationship and who you are as a person
  2. You will realize the gaps between what you really want in a relationship and who your partner is as a person
  3. You will be able to identify the things you “can live with” and “the dealbreakers”
  4. You will take the responsibility and identify the areas for your own personal improvement
  5. You will be able to make a decision which one of the 4 Options (Work on your Issues, Take A Break, Put a Ring on it or Leave Him) should you take

Are you Ready? Click here!

 

Option 2: Work out your issues first

work out your issues first

You might have come to some groundbreaking conclusions while doing the “One exercise that can totally change your love life” and one of them – quite possibly – is that you have some areas to work on: both individually and with your partner.

And you are willing to work! Although you acknowledged that your relationship has some challenges, you want to truly give it a try and fix the issues before deciding if you should get married or not.

 

How to approach it?

As we have explained: “You have all the things you have to offer, the way you want to feel with your partner, the things you want to have in a relationship, your dealbreakers and how all of these are matching with your lover. What to do next? If you think that now you simply have to forward the list to your partner and announce: “This is what doesn’t match between my needs and our relationship and if you don’t change it, I’m leaving”, then you are in for a big disappointment. This should be a dynamic tool that you can both use, mostly in order to work on yourself.”

 

Prepare for discussion

Once you have all the areas to work on identified (Column 6 from the exercise) you should prepare yourself to present them to your partner in a calm, clear and confident manner. Be aware that many times when we discuss areas for improvement within a relationship, it is quite easy to accidentally fall into an argument. Your partner may feel cornered or attacked when faced with your suggestions and automatically get defensive.

In order to avoid that, follow these simple rules:

 

1. Be calm and friendly

You might have discovered some serious issues in your relationship that you were not aware of before; it can naturally cause some frustration or disappointment from your side. This, however, will not help you to solve it.

Try to calmly explain your point of view and avoid indulging in “the blame game”. Imagine that you are not his girlfriend but his best friend; you are here to build and create and not to blame and accuse.

 

2. Be clear on what you mean

Some of us have a problem with telling our “other half” what we truly want, as we are unable to communicate openly and directly. We are either afraid of a rejection and looking needy or we are simply unable to show our own vulnerability.

It is quite understandable and it’s something that we all need to learn but what we do instead is very harmful.

So we “hint” our partner about what we need and we expect him/her to figure out. Or we drop vague suggestions in hopes for the other person to “get it”. Sometimes we even send mixed messages by being inconsistent with our communication – for instance, we tell our partner we would like to get married, by when we don’t get the reaction that we wanted, we take our words back (“I was joking” or “I changed my mind”) in order to protect our ego.

If we truly want to work on our issues in the relationship, we need to be clear about them. It’s essential – especially in case of “dealbreakers”. For example, if having a family is very important for you, you need to say it clearly instead of vaguely mentioning that you would maybe like to be a parent one day.

 

3. Be confident about your discoveries

“Be confident” doesn’t mean “be demanding” or “offensive”. It simply means that you should stick to your conclusions and talk about them like you mean it. Don’t allow yourself to get into discussions like “Is this really a dealbreaker for you?” – your partner may want to challenge you, but you should stick to what you have agreed with yourself.

 

Work Together

In order to succeed, you need to be very open and honest and you should also have a certain level of maturity and open-mindedness. If only one person is willing to address the issues, while the other doesn’t have enough emotional or mental resources to do so, you are in for a disappointment. You need to have the same goal and level of commitment to solve your challenges. You should also be prepared that it may take some time – remember, it’s a process and not just one “all-nighter” – it will require consistency and perseverance, but if you truly care for each other and want to improve your relationship not only it is worth it, but also life-changing.

 

Option 3: Take a break

take a break

There is a possibility, that after doing your lists and getting a very clear “reality check” regarding your relationship you may find yourself confused and unsure what to do. It may be that there is a lot of issues that you discovered within yourself that you need time to digest and approach. It can also be that the amount of work ahead of you and your partner seems to be so huge, that you will not know how to move forward.

 

Confusion

It’s also quite normal to expect that you will get quite confused. Your list may clearly indicate that he is not the guy for you and yet somewhere deep down you’ll feel that you don’t want to let him go.

Another possible outcome is that you identify the dealbreakers and discover that in your current relationship none of them are violated. You may be exactly on the same page with your partner and the things you were previously complaining about are in reality insignificant. Yet you still may still have a weird gut feeling that something is “not right”.

 

Take a break

In this case, it’s a good idea to take a break to figure things out. Don’t rush the process, it’s totally understandable that it requires some time to come to the terms with your discoveries.

You can also try to go come back to the exercise again in a couple of days. Maybe you’ve missed something? Or you weren’t completely honest with yourself? In the case when your gut feeling is telling you that something’s not right, It can also be, that even if according to the list, you are in an almost perfect relationship, you are simply not in love with your partner anymore.

Only you know the answer to these questions, and even if for the time being, the situation can seem blurry, you may get there if you give yourself some time to breathe and reflect.

 

Option 4: Put a ring on it

engagement-1718244_1920.jpg

 

As we explain in the “One exercise that can totally change your love life”you may also come to the conclusion that your boyfriend is THE ONE for you :

“Another interesting outcome of the “Dealbreaker” part of this exercise is that we can realize that the things we were complaining about in our relationship are actually not that important for us after all. We, humans, tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. So, if you have a supportive, loving partner who takes care for you when you’re down with the flu, but sometimes forgets about your anniversary or is not good with bringing flowers, ask yourself, what’s really important for you.  You may discover you don’t need that god damn flower after all, but having someone making you a tea while you feel ill is the type of romance you want.”

If that’s your case Alice, congratulations! Now the only open issue is your initial challenge: How to move your relationship to the next level and get engaged?

 

Put a ring on it

While discussing different strategies on how could you break the impasse and get your boyfriend to propose, we brainstormed over many ideas. We have both agreed that although the good old fashion “blackmail” (“If we don’t get married, I will look for other options”) is probably the most traditional way chosen by women all over the world, we somehow don’t feel good about it.

Other women use more subtle and elaborated tactics, which are a hybrid between manipulation and persuasion but it still ends in the same bucket – a girl is trying to somehow force the guy to pop the question.

So then we asked ourselves: “Isn’t it just better if Alice simply proposes to him?” Yeap, we know how it sounds – many people or even cultures are simply not ready for that kind of paradigm shift – but if you think about it, isn’t this better than “blackmailing” or manipulating a man into engagement? Doesn’t this sound more fair and transparent?

We agree that this option requires a lot of courage but it’s worth to consider. It has not so much to do with feminism as such, but with a simple right of every human being to take a control over their lives and go for the things that make them happy. And although this is not for everyone, we hope that you will consider it as an alternative to a possible “blackmail”.

 

 

Option 5: Leave him

leave him

This is not an easy decision – especially after 5 years together – but if you can clearly see that this relationship has no future, there is no reason to prolong it further.

It doesn’t mean that your boyfriend is “bad” or there’s something wrong with you – it may simply mean that either you are on very different pages in your livesthe feelings have passed or there is no compatibility between your values, lifestyles or personalities and the exercise that you’ve done, only brought it to the surface.

You might have been in love once, but people change and so do feelings. Sometimes one person evolves while other stays in the same place. Sometimes they both change but in a completely different and incompatible way. And sometimes you are simply incapable of working on your issues because all your energy has burned out.

 

End it with love and integrity

It is always difficult to end a relationship – especially if it’s a long one and you feel like you have invested a lot of time and energy in it – but if you clearly see that it ain’t gonna work for you, it’s time to call it quits.

If you want to end the relationship, you need to calmly yet confidently explain what are your reasons (you can check out You’ve Got 5 Options’ Solved Challenge: “5 ways to break up with your girlfriend” for an inspiration)

Present your dealbreakers and explain why are they important to you. Tell him why you think there is no point to be together any longer. Give your partner a bit of a space and time to digest it; don’t engage in a “blame-game” or some sort of passive-aggressive behavior.

It’s not easy and it won’t t be pleasant. But if you know that he’s not the one, ending the relationship is the best thing you can do – both for yourself and your boyfriend. It will be difficult to see a silver lining at first, but try to remember that by ending something that doesn’t work, you give both of you much better chances for future happiness with people that you are more compatible with.

We hope that you’ve made your decision Alice! Please let us know what did you choose and we wish you all the luck in your relationship!

Much Love,

Anna & Marta